An interview with Gael Orr, Communications Manager
How did “Once Again Nut Butter” get its name? Did this name come from the early days when the company was founded in 1976?
Our founders, Jeremy Thaler and Constance Potter, had started other worker-owned businesses and so when they started our company, they were “Once Again” starting another company.
Can you explain how the founders went into the nut butter business? Was that the original idea when establishing the co-op?
They were asked to make an old fashioned peanut butter by a local museum, and they had owned a bakery business. Using a coffee roaster to roast peanuts, they discovered a good opportunity for a new business. Production began in a small, 800 square foot space in their basement. Jeremy arranged to use the discarded bulk pails from a local bakery to pack bulk nut butter.
Your company is unique in that it is employee-owned and dedicated to sustainable farming practices, do all employees have a voice in how you source your products and develop strategies for growth? Can you explain and provide an example?
Our employees have a voice in nearly everything we do. We have three employees who sit on our board of directors. In addition, we have committees that all employees are invited to join, as is the case with our new product innovation team, our green team, our governance teams, etc. Most notably we also have an Honest in Trade committee that works on our commodities sourcing and auditing practices to insure that people within our supply chain are treated ethically and that our commodities are also grown sustainably. We also vote on major decisions, such as the investment in our new peanut butter facility we just constructed.
How did your team pioneer the development of organic peanut growing standards? Do you source organic peanuts only in the U.S.? If not, which other countries provide your organic peanuts?
We source peanuts from the USA, Argentina, and Nicaragua. A couple of years ago, we had asked our sesame co-ops in Nicaragua to grow test plots of organic peanuts, and now we source from our farmers there.
How did your company get involved in farming co-ops in Nicaragua, such as the Jubilee House? Do you have other programs where you give back to the communities?
The Jubilee House actually contacted us decades ago. They asked if we would give an opportunity to Nicaraguans to grow sesame seeds for us. So we put in four acres of test plots. Today that work has developed into 2,000 farmers represented by 13 worker-co-ops. We have engaged in ongoing micro-lending initiatives to assist farmers with their crops. Part of what we did in the USA in organic peanut growing standards, was to subsidize the crops for the first five years. We have a long history of supporting farmers and sharing the risk in crop development. We are currently in the process of working with Cornell University in the production of organic sunflower growing in New York State. It’s a commodity that we can potentially grow locally. So we are testing soil conditions, environmental impact, yields, etc.
Where can consumers buy your products? What countries outside of the U.S. carry your nut butters?
Our products are found online, they are available in heath food stores and co-op grocery stores and major chains throughout the USA. Outside of the USA our products are found in more limited areas, but can be found in Japan, Central America, and Mexico.
Once Again Nut Butter is a member of several associations, how has membership with the American Peanut Council helped your business? Also, since your company does so much to help impoverished Americans and disaster victims, have you worked with Peanut Butter for the Hungry?
We really appreciate the nutrition research that is done by the Peanut Council and getting updated on the latest industry news and trends. Regarding charity work, we have a long standing history of supporting chari
ties throughout the world. We have not directly worked with Peanut Butter for the Hungry, but I do believe we have worked with them indirectly through other partnering charities, I believe Feed the Children has done work with them. We have made significant donations to Feed the Children as well as over 300 other charities.
Do you have any new products or plans that you would like to share with the APC community?
We do have new products coming soon. We are still in the development phases so I am unable to share more at this time. This past year though we launched single serving sized squeeze packs and 12oz jar sizes to respond to consumer demands for smaller packaging.
For more information, please contact:
Tel: (585) 468-2535 x35
12 S. State St., P.O. Box 429
Nunda, NY 14517